The right of trial by jury preserved by U.S. Const. amend. VII is the right which existed under the English common law when U.S. Const. amend. VII was adopted. U.S. Const. amend. VII not only preserves that right but discloses a studied purpose to protect it from indirect impairment through possible enlargements of the power of reexamination existing under the common law, and to that end declares that no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States than according to the rules of the common law.
In plaintiff's personal injury action alleging negligence, the trial court had reserved ruling on defendant's motion for a directed verdict, and after verdict, had denied the motion. The court of appeals held that the trial court erred in denying defendant's motion for a directed verdict, reversing the judgment with a direction for a new trial. The court of appeals asserted that it could not itself determine the issues of fact and direct a judgment for defendant, for that would cut off plaintiff's unwaived right to have the issues of fact determined by a jury.
Does the practice of entering judgment on a point of law reserved, without objection, violated U.S. Const. amend. VII.?
On certiorari, the court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals, as modified. It held that, upon remand, there should have been a judgment of dismissal on the merits, for the court was confronted with a purely legal question. The court pointed out that the practice of entering judgment on a point of law reserved, without objection, was known to the common law, and did not violate U.S. Const. amend. VII.